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Ames election snafus raise questions

Ames election snafus raise questions

Editorial: Tiny town, big mess

It’s hard to blame last week’s runner-up in the Ames village mayoral race for wanting a do-over. Not only was the ballot fatally flawed, the presence of the village’s current mayor (and announced write-in trustee candidate) as a poll inspector was quite improper.

Ames has only 145 people, according to recent census figures, but that still doesn’t excuse the informal way it ran this election. For starters, the ballot listed three candidates for village trustee, when one had withdrawn two weeks prior to the election to take the village clerk’s job. To make matters worse, the ballot mistakenly grouped two of the candidates together, with instructions to pick one, thus ensuring the third candidate — the one who’d withdrawn — more votes.

But yet another candidate was selected, via write-in: Mayor Martin Wilcox, who, serving as a substitute poll inspector, had informed voters how they could write-in any name anywhere on the ballot (since it lacked an appropriate line for write-ins). This mightn’t have been improper had Wilcox not agreed to run for trustee as a write-in during the campaign.

Village officials knew the ballots were flawed and basically tried to call the whole thing off without counting them, but the county’s Republican election commissioner wouldn’t hear of it. So the ballots got counted, and the results challenged — as they should have been.

A do-over is definitely in order. But after an episode like this, one can’t help but wonder what a village of this size is doing with its own government in the first place. Wouldn’t it make more sense to dissolve it into the town of Canajoharie, of which it’s a part?

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